Page images

nations; and we may rest content and satisfied, that even in the inidst of the blackened annals on which our eyes must rest, there was virtue and spirituality, and truth, sincerity and zeal; and that there will be these to the end of time-invisible in history, invisible in life, but working on silently and unceasingly, even to themselves, towards the purity and elevation, and preservation of the religion of the Lord. Nor are such workers confined to one party or one creed-outwardly, each will condemn each; but inwardly, they work together.




HYRCANUS's quiet surrender of his authority was not of long continuance. Urged on by Antipater, the father of Herod, he again took the field; and after various alternations of success and defeat, both brothers appealed to Pompey, the Roman general ;—first by commissioners, and then, by command, in person.

Each produced defenders; but many of the nation came to protest against both, as having illegally changed the form of government from the supremacy of the High Priest to that of king: a charge sufficient to confirm our idea that, from the death of Alexander, the former office had completely merged into the latter. The representatives of neither party, however, had much weight. Pompey decided as was best for his own and the Roman interest, only so far favouring Hyrcanus, as to tempt Aristobulus to resume hostilities; convinced that so doing would only prove his weakness, make him prisoner to Pompey, and eventually cause the whole nation to submit; and his prognostics were correct, with the sole exception of a remnant of Aristobulus's faction, who threw themşelves into the Temple, valiantly re solved to defend it to the last.

After three months' struggle, during which the cessation of warfare on the Sabbath had given the Romans their only advantage, the Temple was taken, and twelve hundred of the Jews slain. Amongst them were several priests, who, engaged in sacrifices and other services of the Temple at the moment of the assault, never moved from the altar, nor faltered in the performance of a single rite, but fell murdered where they stood firm and undaunted, and truly warriors of the Lord.

The faction of Hyrcanus were amongst the most furious in the massacre of their countrymen, painfully proving the fearful effects of party spirit, and how completely nationality must at this period have been lost. Hyrcanus was nominated High Priest and Prince of the country, on condition of his submitting to the Roman government, paying tribute, making no effort to increase his territories, and never to resume the crown.

The dignity was thus merely nominal, the independence of the country at an end, and Judea little more than a province of Rome.

Aristobulus and his children, his sons, and two daughters, were carried captives to Rome. Alexander, one of these sons (and afterwards the father of Mariamne and Aristobulus), escaped on the journey to Rome, and returned to Judea.

The desecration of the Temple by Pompey, in profaning its most sacred precincts, excited towards him the utmost hatred of the Jews-a hatred which caused them to behold his gradual decline with satisfaction, and wherever they were scattered, they simultaneously swelled the ranks of his rival Julius Cæsar.

From this period, in all the internal troubles of Judea, we read of her appealing to the Romans for assistance;. the never-failing method of kingdoms being entirely

subjected by the party to whom they appeal. Hyrcanus did not enjoy his authority in peace- Alexander, the elder son of Aristobulus, above alluded to, raised a considerable force, and made every preparation for re-obtaining the possessions of his father. Gabinius, pro-consul of Syria, called in by Hyrcanus, made head against him, and compelled him to surrender his fortresses. Aristobulus himself, and his younger son, soon after escaped from Rome, and headed another revolt against Hyrcanus, but with worse fortune; the former, severely wounded, was sent back in chains to Rome—Antigonus, through the intercession of his mother, obtained his release.

The form of government was then altered by Gabinius, proving the very small portion of dignity or independence which the nominal prince retained. Hyrcanus had had nothing to do with the revolts; but we find him deprived entirely of the royal authority—and five senates, or sanhedrins, established at Jerusalem, Jericho, Gadara, Amatheus, and Sepphoris. This government continued till ten years afterwards, when Cæsar restored Hyrcanus to his former power.

Though his arms were defeated, the spirit of Alexander, in whom all the courage, enterprise, and chivalry of the Asmonæans appeared to have centred, was still unsubdued. The moment Gabinius had drawn off his forces, intent on the conquest of Egypt, Alexander reappeared, drove the few remaining Romans into a strong position on Mount Gerizim, and there besieged themcourageously met Gabinius, who had returned on hearing of the revolt, valiantly gave him battle at the head of 80,000 men, and, though again defeated by the irre

sistible Roman arms, and compelled to take flight, bore with him his unconquered spirit still.

Both he and his father, however, fell victims to the Roman civil war. Cæsar had given Aristobulus his freedom, and commanded him to create a diversion in Palestine in his favour. The adherents of Pompey poisoned the unfortunate prince on his journey. Alexander, who was levying soldiers in Judea for the assistance of Cæsar, was seized at Antioch by Scipio, the friend of Pompey, and beheaded. Antigonus was, therefore, the only scion of the family of Aristobulus remaining. Hyrcanus retained the sovereignty in name, Antipater in power. Winning the favour of Cæsar in his Egyptian wars, Antipater, while he demanded, and received the re-establishment of the High Priesthood for Hyrcanus, obtained for himself all the rights of a Roman citizen, and the procuratorship of the whole of Judea. Soon after, presuming still more on the incapacity of the feeble prince whom he pretended to befriend, and on the friendship of the Romans, he made his eldest son, Phasael, governor of Jerusalem, and his younger, Herod, governor of Judea. This is the first mention of a character so intimately blended with the fortunes of the Jewish people. The brevity of our present sketch will not permit us even to attempt a 'delineation of the shrewd and sagacious policy, and unfailing enterprize with which this extraordinary man made his way through the most adverse factions, , both Jewish and Roman, to the supremacy of Judea, and to the intimate friendship of all the contending heads of Rome. Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony, Lepidus, and, finally, Augustus Cæsar-men whose views were never the same, were yet brought over by Herod's in

« PreviousContinue »